Understanding Self-Care: A Q & A with Clinical Counselor Emily Dolan

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Emily Dolan


Emily Dolan, BSW, MSW, RSW, is a clinical counselor with Workplace Options, the world’s largest independent provider of employee wellbeing support solutions. Emily is based out of Workplace Options’ Toronto office. In this interview, we asked Emily to talk about the importance of self-care.




Q:           What exactly is self-care?

A:            Self-care is an ongoing process of taking care of your body and mind. It’s giving yourself permission to focus on your own needs. So often, we get wrapped up in what everyone arounds us need that we neglect our own needs.


Q:           What are the signs that a person needs to focus on self-care?

A:            Burnout is a major sign. When a parent, caregiver on employee is giving all of their energy and resources to someone or something else, they will eventually start to burn out. People who say “I have to…” or “I don’t have time to…” generally are not setting aside time to take care of their own needs.


Q:           Why do people tend to neglect self-care?

A:            Some people have good intentions about practicing self-care; they know it’s important, but it falls to the bottom of their to-do list. There are some people who believe a false narrative that self-care is selfish. Others consider self-care a luxury that they do not have time for it or they do not deserve.


Q:           How do you convince people otherwise?

A:            I share with people the science behind self-care. Research shows that the body and mind need to reboot. Those who practice self-care may benefit from improved clarity and focus; make fewer mistakes and think more critically. People are actually more productive because they have taken time for themselves.


Q:           Are there any other hurdles that you have to help people overcome, when it comes to practicing self-care?

A:            It has to be a priority. If you wait until you have time, you will never do it. I encourage people to put it on their schedule. Even if it is just five minutes.


Q:           What do people need to do to get started with self-care?

A:            It is really a personal thing. You need to find what works for you. Ask yourself, “What do I find relaxing? What restores my energy?”


Q:           What are some examples of self-care?

A:            In terms of focusing on our physical health, self-care could be taking time to go the doctor. When it comes to eating, self-care is making healthy choices. Exercise, even if it’s just walking, is a great example of self-care. Emotionally, self-care begins with self-compassion. Many people I talk to have a very critical inner voice. So addressing that is important. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people is another form of self-care. Setting boundaries, allowing yourself time to nurture creativity or spirituality, sticking up for yourself…these are all examples of self-care.


Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com.